Sorites
ISSN 1135-1349
http://www.sorites.org
Issue #18 -- February 2007. Pp. 3-6
Copyright © by Sorites and the authors
Abstracts of the Papers

Samples and Logical Form
by M. G. Yoes

This paper concerns a puzzle about the logical form of expressions involving repeated `and's. Obvious attempts to solve the problem fail. It happens that a proper solution surprisingly requires the semantic notions of sampling and expression. I speculate that this may provide an alternative to conversational implicature.


May Judges Sometimes Lie?
by Jason Glenn

Clearly, vagueness is an inevitable feature of natural language. The practice of law, which is necessarily done within the confines of language, must inevitably come to grips with the phenomenon of vagueness. What philosophers working with these concerns tend to debate about is the extent to which vagueness affects law and the role that vagueness plays therein. Roy Sorensen argues that vagueness in law is not functional and therefore to be avoided as much as possible by judges. Sorensen equates the decisions that judges make about borderline cases with lying. Sorensen bases his conclusions in part upon the idea that borderline cases do admit of truth-values; it is simply the case that we do not have the means to discover these truth-values. I find that Sorensen may be too quick on the draw in accusing judges of the moral indiscretion of lying, and that judges, though perhaps acting insincerely in a truly minimal sense, are in fact not lying.


The Contextual Nature of Cognition and Dancy's Moral Particularism
by Mark Lovas

We can shed new light upon Jonathan Dancy's moral particularism if we frame it in terms of Daniel Andler's recent discussion of the epistemological problem of context. Andler helps us in two specific ways. First, we can see that Dancy's work is highlighting the problem context raises for moral knowledge. This makes some criticisms of Dancy seem off the mark. Secondly, Andler's approach also helps us understand why Dancy seems reticent to provide more epistemological details. Nonetheless, the paper closes with a suggestion about the possibility of a particularist account of moral knowledge more detailed than anything Dancy has provided.


Kuhn, Metaphysical Realism, and Reduplication
by Andrew M. Bailey

I offer in this paper an analysis of one troubling passage in Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. First, I lay out a dilemma for Kuhn; that he is confronted with either an incoherent formal contradiction or a form of metaphysical anti-realism. Second, using reduplicative propositions, I attempt to carve out a third reading which avoids the dilemma. Finally, I answer two objections to the coherence of my reduplicative reading. In doing this, I dismantle one reason many have found compelling to view Kuhn as a metaphysical anti-realist.


Nonsense and the Privacy of Sensation
by Juan Jose Acero

This paper explores the so-called Epistemic Privacy Way, one of Wittgenstein's lines of attack on the very possibility of a private language. The Epistemic Privacy Way has it that sentences like `I know I am in pain' or `But I must know whether I am in pain!', among many others, cannot be used as vehicles of a sort of knowledge incorrigible and immediate. To substantiate such a criticism, Cora Diamonds views of nonsense are spelled out and a constraint, i.e. the Meaning Restricted Exportability Requirement (MRE), is distilled out of them. Beside holding, in opposition to Diamond, that MRE is compatible with the Principle of Meaning Compositionality, it is argued that sentence constituency is subject to two kinds of conditions, namely, syntagmatic and paradigmatic, which contribute to a detailed explanation of why sentences like `I know I am in pain', `It is 5 o'clock p.m. on the Sun' or `Spain is above New Zeland' could be nonsensical. Another result of making MRE to bear on this topic is a distinction between meaning and thought -- a (declarative) sentence could be meaningful but express no thought at all -- that echoes back Wittgenstein's distinction between depth and surface grammar.


An Argument against External Reasons
by Jonathan Anomaly

In this article I first clarify and then defend Bernard Williams' claim that all practical reasons are internal. I argue that since external reasons are incompatible with a plausible version of the ought-implies-can principle, they are all false. Although some defend internalism by asserting that external reasons fail to explain rational action, a better defense appeals to the fact that only internal reasons are consistent with the ought-implies-can principle.


Judging Life and Its Value
by Brooke Alan Trisel

Some philosophers have noted that there is a difference between the questions «Is life meaningful or purposeful?» and «Is life worth living?» However, what it is that makes these questions different has not been explored. Although the famed question about the meaning of life has received most of the attention, I argue that the better and more fruitful question is «Is life worth living?» When addressing the question «Is life worth living?» one takes into account benefits and costs that are ignored when considering the question «Is life purposeful?» thereby explaining how life can be purposeless, but worth living or purposeful, but not worth living. After exploring the differences between these questions, I then evaluate various ways of determining whether life is worth living. I argue that the best method for making this determination is to ask oneself whether or not one would have chosen to live one's life.


Normativity without Exception: Donald Davidson on Language and Communication
by Sonia Arribas

This paper deals with three texts by Donald Davidson's that discuss the issue of linguistic innovation (in metaphor and other devices) from different epistemological standpoints. I show that Davidson's theory of metaphor undergoes a crucial transformation: from an early stage in which metaphor is viewed as an unintelligible and exceptional element external to language, to a later stage in which it is conceived as intrinsic to language, and thus as potentially understandable. This tracing of Davidson's development leads me to formulate an understanding of the concepts of metaphor, literalness and linguistic renovation that follows the later Davidson. According to this formulation, both metaphor and literal meaning are comprehensible, and must therefore be said to exist in a relationship of mutuality. This relationship of mutuality is language's inherent normativity: the fact that language necessarily depends both on the speaker's and hearer's commitment to the literal meaning of the words employed, and on their endorsement of the intended meaning as that which is actually meant. Without committing themselves to the literal, speaker and hearer simply cannot understand the usual reference of words; without committing themselves to the intended meaning in its necessary relation to the literal, speaker and hearer cannot understand one another on each new occasion of utterance.


The Private Language Argument Isn't as Difficult, Nor as Dubious as Some Make Out
by Roger Harris

A simple argument against private rule-following and, hence, a private language, can be disentangled from Wittgenstein's discussion. It is based on three widely accepted premises concerning:

1 & 2 prevent 3 being met within the necessarily private sphere. This saves the PL Argument from Brian Garrett's strictures, and the convolutions of Michael Ming Yang's exegesis in recent volumes of Sorites.


Facts, Truth, and Realism: Toward a Multi-level Theory of Knowledge
by Paul Bowyer

Although there are strong arguments in favor of Fodor's «language of thought hypothesis,» it creates the following difficulty concerning the relationship between mind and reality: if the mind is composed of mental sentences, which in turn consist of symbols arranged in sequences, whereas external reality consists of physical objects arranged in space, then how can there be a simple relationship between the two? I suggest that to answer that question, we must formulate a metatheory, in the language of possible-worlds semantics, which essentially views reality as composed of sets of possible worlds that correspond to the sentences of our scientific theories. These sets of possible worlds can then be seen as isomorphic with the mental sentences that constitute the mind. This paper pursues some of the consequences of that suggestion.


A Dilemma for the Weak Deflationist about Truth
by Glen Hoffmann

The weak deflationist about truth is committed to two theses: one conceptual, the other ontological. On the conceptual thesis (what might be called a `triviality thesis'), the content of the truth predicate is exhausted by its involvement in some version of the `truth-schema'. On the ontological thesis, truth is a deflated property of truth bearers. In this paper, I focus on weak deflationism's ontological thesis, arguing that it generates an instability in its view of truth: the view threatens to collapse into either that of strong deflationism (i.e., truth is not a property) or that of some form of inflationism (i.e., truth is a substantial property). The instability objection to weak deflationism is sketched by way of a truth-property ascription dilemma, the two horns of which its proponent is at pains to circumvent.


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